About one hundred African business women gathered in Nairobi, Kenya for the African Women Linkage Forum from 18 to 20 August 2014. The session was organized by the Chairperson of the Bureau of the African Union in partnership with the UNDP Regional Services Centre. The Forum sought to enhance women’s leadership in public and private sector institutions at both national and regional levels.
Recognizing that women in business play a major role in the economy despite facing great challenges, the Forum addressed some key challenges, including tax-related issues, trade and customs constraints, limited access to productive resources, finance and markets, limited capacity and skills to run effective businesses, among other issues.
The Forum presented a platform for business women to learn and share with each other what works and what doesn’t. It helped identify opportunities for intra-trade as well as mentorship by women champions. The Forum also presented new opportunities for women in dynamic trade sectors.
In a keynote address, Geraldine Fraser Moleketi, African Development Bank (AfDB) Special Envoy on Gender highlighted four main barriers encountered by women in small, and medium enterprises. These include limitation of accessible, affordable and appropriate financing
women’s business choices and the gender digital divide, as well as limited social capital. She noted that the AfDB in advancing its gender strategy is looking for ways to address financing and is proposing the establishment of funds to address the needs of women in SMEs.
She also encouraged the women to network and form conglomerates that would be future blue chip companies on the continent. Fraser Moleketi emphasized the need for women to dare and get into nontraditional business ventures such as those in the extractive industry and construction which are some of the drivers of economic growth on the continent. In her address she noted that there was a need to support the growth of women’s businesses at all levels, in order to contribute to meaningful poverty alleviation. The Special Envoy’s address was delivered by Linet Miriti, Senior Gender Specialist.